OAKLAND -- Four players came up huge for the Oakland A’s in Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory over the Angels, and that was just in the ninth inning.
Alberto Callaspo started the winning rally with a single. Jemile Weeks pinch-ran for him and tagged up on a heads-up play to advance to second. Coco Crisp work a ten-pitch walk that eventually loaded the bases, and Josh Donaldson (shown, below left) delivered a walk-off hit to score Weeks and give the A’s a dramatic win.
It was a wild scene as A’s players burst out of the dugout to mob Donaldson by first base. Turns out, it was a wild scene inside the dugout as well. For much different reasons.
The bathroom flooded in the home dugout in the middle of the game, just the latest chapter in the sewage saga that has played out at the A’s home ballpark this season.
“Another O.co Coliseum flub there,” said reliever Jerry Blevins, who described a “pretty good coating” of sewage on the dugout floor when he returned to the dugout after pitching the top of the seventh. Ninth-inning thrills … another A’s victory … a bathroom malfunction.
Is there any better way to sum up the experiences of this team over the last two seasons?
Plumbing issues aside, Tuesday night was pretty important for the A’s.
After starting their homestand on a flat note with Monday’s 12-1 drubbing by the Angels, they needed to stop the bad vibes before they started to mushroom. The A’s are trying to nail down the American League West, and with second-place Texas winning, they don’t want the Rangers generating belief they can jump back in the division picture.
Oakland maintained its 6 ½ game lead in the AL West and lowered its magic number to six to clinch the division.
“It’s always nice for your confidence to come in and win a close game,” said closer Grant Balfour, who struck out the side in the top of the ninth. “(Tuesday) was more of a playoff-feel type game, and that’s the kind of game we’re gonna be playing.”
They did it behind some terrific pitching performances. Rookie Sonny Gray, after giving up Mike Trout’s monster home run to center in the first, settled in and delivered six innings of one-run ball. He struck out Trout on a high heater with a runner at third in the fifth. Gray escaped the inning unscored upon.
After Ryan Cook hit two batters and loaded the bases with two outs with the score tied in the seventh, Blevins and continued his career-long dominance against Angels cleanup man Josh Hamilton. Blevins struck Hamilton out after falling behind 3-1 and yelled emphatically as he hopped off the mound. Blevins has faced the 2010 MVP in 11 official at-bats over his career. He’s struck him out seven times.
“We’ve done that before with Blevins and Hamilton,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “That’s kind of his guy.”
Then, after a frustrating night offensively for eight innings, the A’s came through in the ninth against Angels reliever Michael Kohn (1-3).
Jed Lowrie, who pinch-hit in the ninth and was intentionally walked, wasn’t around for last year’s walk-off magic. But he’s getting a feel for the Coliseum’s plumbing issues. Earlier this season, the A’s and Mariners were forced to use the same locker room after the game due to a sewage leak.
Lowrie was in the clubhouse in the middle of Tuesday’s game when he walked down the players’ tunnel.
“I came down there and there were about four maintenance workers mopping up the dugout,” he said.
All the players had gathered at one end of the dugout by the bat racks.
“It was kind of repulsive, honestly,” Lowrie said with an amused smile on his face.
The A’s managed to come out of it smelling like a rose in the ninth.